VILLAGERS who rallied to save their youth club from closure are gearing up for its relaunch.

Wolvercote Young People’s Club is to reopen with new staff next month after a successful fundraising drive.

The club was one of 21 across the county that lost its council funding on September 1.

It will not only provide four nights a week of youth work, but run outreach work in Cutteslowe and provide a base for other activities, including disability groups, senior citizens’ bingo, and five-a-side tournaments.

Faced with closure, the trustees of the 73-year-old St Peter’s Road club launched an appeal in March for 350 backers to donate £100 a year to save youth work in North Oxford.

To date, 230 supporters have signed the three-year pledge, giving the club enough cash, a promised £69,000, to recruit a new youth worker and administrator.

Vice chairman Jim Duthie, 73, who attended the club as a boy in the 1950s, said: “We were always a volunteer club until the local authority got involved 15 or 20 years ago.

“They took over responsibility for the running of the club, but we remained as a fundraising committee.

“I am quite confident that the club will continue for another 70 years providing there is a lot of hard work from the trustees.”

He added: “We have always had terrific support from the community, which has rallied round when we needed help.

“Donations have come from some quite unexpected quarters.

“The club has always been extremely important to Wolvercote. The children and young people want purpose.

“They want somewhere of their own to go and let off steam and enjoy themselves, and it is all part of their educational upbringing at a place where people are looking out for them and caring for them during their leisure time.”

Merton College, Oxford, which has supported the club for decades, is among benefactors giving grants to the project.

Former BBC producer Rob Cooke, who was brought in by trustees to re-launch the club after re-establishing Kirtlington Village Youth Club, said: “There is a lot of passion and a lot of energy on the trust.

“They are determined that after 73 years, it is not going to disappear.”

He said many villagers regarded the period of local authority control as a “blip” and the trust was now resuming its previous role of running the club.

The management committee is recruiting new staff, and the club is set to re-start youth work in the first week of October.